Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Foray Into Comic Books

I'm a huge comic book fan, and anyone who's read me long enough knows this. That stated, I've not actually purchased a comic book in at least three years; probably longer. My heyday of collecting was in the late 90s when DC enjoyed its renaissance and comics in general were of a relatively high quality. No, the late 90s were nothing like the new vision of comic writers in the 80s (darker, grittier, crazier), but the era was certainly a bastion of consistently good writing.

Then it all went to shit.

But, I figured I'd give the comic shop a try, and after watching Kick-Ass (the superb adaptation of the graphic novel) I moseyed my way into a store and picked up three books (and on Free Comic Book Day, no less... talk about serendipity). From DC Comics I grabbed Justice League: Cry for Justice #6 (of 7) and Wonder Woman #43, and from IDW I picked up The Last Unicorn #1.

And here's what I discovered:

I rarely read IDW Comics, save for the occasional Transformers title (once published by Dreamwave, a foolishly-run company that quickly went out of business). Like Dark Horse Comics, IDW specializes in licensed material. Always a fan of Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, the comic adaptation caught my eye, so I bought it. The art was intriguing, in typical IDW/Dreamwave style, but the story is so fast, so ready to "get on with it," I was bored from page 1. Sad to say, I won't be picking up #2.

Now, I'm a huge DC Comics fan. Their stable of characters and legacies are, far and away, my favorite. Yes, I like Marvel, too, but nobody creates a modern myth like DC does. I'd go on to posit that DC seems to realize that it's in the business of comics and therefore (more often than Marvel) allows itself to "create worlds" in which to play, while Marvel attempts to stay "more grounded in reality." Sure, they wax and wane, but for the most part, that's what I've noticed.

Anyway, long-story short, I've been looking for an excuse to return to comic collecting for a while now. And I've not found it.

Wonder Woman has long been (along with Aquaman) the most popular DC staple who can't seem to hold her own title for very long. Her writers simply can't seem to keep her interesting for a decent period of time. The current writer, Gail Simone, seems to suffer from this shortcoming. Admittedly, as I have a fictional crush on the character, I picked up #43 because the art finally seemed appropriate to the title, and while not the best Wonder Woman work, Nicola Scott and Doug Hazlewood are definitely above par for the book. Still... serious letdown.

The Justice League is another DC staple that enjoys periods of extremely well-put together work and periods of extremely lame work. Browsing through the comic shop, I noticed that one of the best comic writers of the last 20 years, James Robinson, was handling the team. I'm usually hesitant to jump into the middle of a story (particularly a 7-issue miniseries), but I had to see what it was about. And, you know what? I kinda liked it. A bit quick, especially for Robinson (anybody who hasn't yet, pick up his fantastic run on Starman), but the art blew me away. Mauro Cascioli, whose work I've never had the privilege of seeing, is a brilliant artist, ranking with the likes of Alex Ross. I must admit, I've little idea what the overall arc of the story is about, but I was impressed.

Still, I doubt I'll be jumping back into comics full-on for a while. From the books I did pick up, to the advertisements for other books that didn't seem all that great, I'm not confident in spending the money... yet. But I will be keeping my eyes open.


  1. I never did 'get' comic books but my partner loves them...

  2. I wonder whether comic books are an American thing - I am not sure that we even have them over here. Must look, the next time I am in the Newsagents.

  3. yeah, i stick with the older stuff...still have 10 long boxes at the rents house...periodicall pull it out and look through...i do flip through the graphic novels at B&N to keep fairly up to date with whats going on...nothing like going into a comic shop though...

  4. Have only bought one issue in about two years, myself. Blackest Night finale, had to see Aquaman restored and alive. That was good, but nothing there really pulled me back in and haven't bought another since.

    Ah well. Maybe Trades are the way to go. Or maybe I am just too old. Blargh!